On September 7, 2006, Scott Harrison invited 700 people to his New York City birthday party and asked each attendee to bring $20. The money he raised at this single event built six wells in Northern Uganda – and charity: water was born.
A year later, Harrison moved his birthday celebration online, and asked each guest to donate $32 in honor of his 32nd birthday. When the event raised $9,000, Harrison hit onto a revolutionary idea. If he could get more people born in September to donate their birthdays to charity: water, he could raise millions for the developing world.
“I don’t need another tie or DVD for my birthday,” Harrison told the Huffington Post’s Shira Lazar. “There are over a billion people who don’t even have clean drinking water.”
charity: water, now in its fourth year, aims to bring clean drinking water to countries in the developing world where it is a scarce and precious resource. Since its foundation, the nonprofit has built more than 2,900 wells in 16 countries and raised more than $20 million with the support of 100,000 donors. A significant percentage of that money has come from ordinary people who have dedicated their September birthdays to Harrison’s cause.
In 2007, people born in September raised $150,000 for charity: water. Donors included a seven-year-old who raised $22,000 from thousands of $7 donations, as well as an octogenarian who said, “I’m turning 81 today, and I’d like to make that possible for more people in Africa.”
This year, Harrison is focusing on building wells in the Central African Republic, a country that relies heavily on international aid to provide services that its government cannot. For the last decade, the region’s native Bayaka people have been displaced by commercial logging and forced to move to villages where clean drinking water is not readily available. charity: water wants to raise $1.7 million in September – enough to bring clean drinking water to 100 percent of the Bayaka population.
If you’d like to donate your birthday to charity: water and become part of Harrison’s inspiring vision, visit www.charitywater.org/september.